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Have Major Labels Given Up On SACD?

Old 08-04-05, 10:15 AM
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Have Major Labels Given Up On SACD?

I recently read an article about the dreaded DualDisc. In it, the author mentioned that Sony has given up on the SACD, the technology they invented. Since I have a new SACD-enabled player, this sorta freaked me out. There aren't many SACDs for sale (though usually more than the DVD-A available in most stores I visit), and most of the titles are a lot older. Is the SACD doomed to go the way of the 8-track? It would be a cryin' shame if they're abandoned for a product as crappy and shoddy as the DualDisc.

Anyone have any info? Thanks
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Old 08-04-05, 10:31 AM
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If it's not dead, it's dying. I'm amazed how few quality titles have come out this year.The promotion of this medium has been pretty much non-existent. Have you ever seen a TV ad for SACD? Me neither. I think the fact that you need to buy a pretty specialized player and people were confused about DVD-A and SACD contributed. I have some great classic albums in SACD though and since I only paid $169 for my player, I'm not too dissapointed. Would love to get the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Quadrophenia on SACD before it dies but I'm not holding my breath.
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Old 08-04-05, 10:43 AM
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the SACD producers of Pink Floyd's "Darkside of the Moon" need to release "Wish You Were Here" in order to resurge the public and SACD fanbase

Interestingly, it's been across the pond where SACD really proliferates -

three Can albums have been reissued remixed for SACD
Dire Strait's Brothers in Arms was released this year. It's been rumoured that the US domestic version will a DVD-Audio release (boo!...)
Big Guns - The Very Best of Rory Gallagher
and a slew of classical titles.
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Old 08-04-05, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Decker
I recently read an article about the dreaded DualDisc. In it, the author mentioned that Sony has given up on the SACD, the technology they invented. Since I have a new SACD-enabled player, this sorta freaked me out. There aren't many SACDs for sale (though usually more than the DVD-A available in most stores I visit), and most of the titles are a lot older. Is the SACD doomed to go the way of the 8-track? It would be a cryin' shame if they're abandoned for a product as crappy and shoddy as the DualDisc.

Anyone have any info? Thanks
Curious, why do you consider DualDisc "crappy and shoddy"? DVD-Audio is technically superior to SACD (mind you I said "technically", sound quality is pretty much up to how the album was mastered) + it can be played on computers AND many (most?/all?) DVD players already.

Also SACD is another Sony standard, people should be against it just on principle.
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Old 08-04-05, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Spooon69
Curious, why do you consider DualDisc "crappy and shoddy"? DVD-Audio is technically superior to SACD (mind you I said "technically", sound quality is pretty much up to how the album was mastered) + it can be played on computers AND many (most?/all?) DVD players already.

Also SACD is another Sony standard, people should be against it just on principle.
Well, Here's the article I was referring to. Also dvdfile did a pretty comprehensive review a while back. Remember, DualDiscs are NOT DVD-A. The audio quality isn't near DVD-A and the DVD side often isn't very good at all. Furthermore, they won't play in a lot of CD players (but they do play in mine). They're not awful, but they're really inferior to Sony's own SACD.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:35 PM
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The CD side of the Dual-disc doesn't meet redbook specs (which is why all the major hardware manufacturers issued "no compatibility" warnings, and the reason why there's no "CD" logo printed on it). Basically, this means that a good number of players will find it difficult or impossible to read the so-called "CD" side. And due to the way the data is encoded on the disc, it requires your error-correction software to work much harder than on usual CDs, giving rise to jitter and other audible problems.

Further, the so-called "DVD-A" side frequently does not contain DVD-A tracks, but only DD and DTS. And those dual-discs that do have DVD-A fail to make use of the higher resolutions available.

It's a pitiful format, inferior to DVD-A and SACD, and the so-called "CD" side is inferior to real CDs. Hopefully, it's just a stopgap on the way to a real hi-res format.

As for SACD, while there have been some amazingly good releases in the past year, the output has become barely a drizzle. Hopefully, this is temporary, but no one seems to know anything when it comes to the major studios' commitments to the format.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Decker
Well, Here's the article I was referring to. Also dvdfile did a pretty comprehensive review a while back. Remember, DualDiscs are NOT DVD-A. The audio quality isn't near DVD-A and the DVD side often isn't very good at all. Furthermore, they won't play in a lot of CD players (but they do play in mine). They're not awful, but they're really inferior to Sony's own SACD.
How did you come to the conclusion that DualDiscs aren't DVD-Audio? Keep in mind that DVD-Audio specifications are broad. 6-channel 24bit/96KHz & 2-channel 24bit/192KHz are both DVD-Audio. I believe Sony doesn't release the 192KHz variant of DVD-A so that they can sell their SACD standard. So saying DualDiscs aren't DVD-Audio is incorrect. Not all DualDiscs are High Resolution DVD-Audio (2-channel 24bit/192KHz) would be a truer statement. e.g. Snow Patrol - Final Straw DualDisc is a High Res DVD-A.

I couldn't find the dvdfile.com review, if you have a link for it, I'd appreciate it. Also, you're right about the thickness of DualDiscs, I've heard that some players (especially in cars) have trouble reading those discs. Still, for backward compatibility with CDs it's a risk I'm willing to take, only because I can actually play DVD-Audio, if I couldn't, then I may change my mind.

As for comparing DVD-A and SACD, that isn't really possible, because even if you compare 2 albums in their DVD-A and SACD versions, it still wouldn't be a fair test, since both standards have totally different production techniques (DVDA/PCM vs SACD/DSD) and it all depends on the person producing the album itself. But from what I've read, both sound extremely well and the only way would be to test a multitude of DVD-Audios and SACDs in a double-blind situtation, and even then the results are based upon opinion.

In any case, DVD-Audio is just a better format technically, so if you come across a bad sounding DVD-A, don't blame the format, blame the record company which made that disc.

Here is a good article to peruse: SACD vs DVD-Audio

Quote from the above article, which sums up things nicely, in favor of both it seems:
"Comparative audition of a wide range of DVD-A and SACD records on the equipment of the sufficiently high level* does not allow to give preference to one of the formats, the difference depends considerably on the mastering quality, and actually does not really depend on the format as such. Taking into account the above analysis and the theoretical DVD-A dynamic range reserve, we can assume that the DVD-A format has not yet fully realized its potential in the modern equipment, while SACD is close to its maximum capacity. But nevertheless, at present this capacity allows the sound quality quite sufficient (with a correct approach) to satisfy the audiophiles' requirements."
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Old 08-04-05, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Spooon69
How did you come to the conclusion that DualDiscs aren't DVD-Audio?
well from my personal experience - a number of so called DualDisc that I was led to believe were DVD-Audio won't play on my car DVD-Audio player. Explain that one to me?
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Old 08-04-05, 02:59 PM
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Hand a dummy award to Interscope Records for not advertising the SACD release of Keane's 'Hopes and Fears' - talk about non-support for a SACD release. Interscope takes the cake for brushing this edition under the carpet.

[Napolean Dynamite] Idiots! [/Napolean Dynamite]
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Old 08-04-05, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Giles
well from my personal experience - a number of so called DualDisc that I was led to believe were DVD-Audio won't play on my car DVD-Audio player. Explain that one to me?
Is it a Sony/BMG DualDisc? They're notorious for not playing in cars (Acura in this case, since it's the only car manufacturer to have DVD-Audio preinstalled).

Also, I was mistaken, I did some Googling after reading yours and Richard's post, some record companies use the DVD-Video Audio standard (e.g. Dolby Digital). This allows them to be played in DVD players, maybe thats why the Acura has trouble, but then again, I've read that the Acura can play some DTS DualDiscs, so it should be able to play DD too. So it's most likely Sony/BMG sticking it to DVD-A.

How does Hopes and Fears sound in SACD/DVD-A? I have the regular CD version and was thinking of picking up the DualDisc.
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Old 08-04-05, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Spooon69
Is it a Sony/BMG DualDisc? They're notorious for not playing in cars (Acura in this case, since it's the only car manufacturer to have DVD-Audio preinstalled).

Also, I was mistaken, I did some Googling after reading yours and Richard's post, some record companies use the DVD-Video Audio standard (e.g. Dolby Digital). This allows them to be played in DVD players, maybe thats why the Acura has trouble, but then again, I've read that the Acura can play some DTS DualDiscs, so it should be able to play DD too. So it's most likely Sony/BMG sticking it to DVD-A.

How does Hopes and Fears sound in SACD/DVD-A? I have the regular CD version and was thinking of picking up the DualDisc.
Yup! my Acura is the prob here... oh well...

as to Hope and Fears, hmmm. well for starters it doesn't help that the multichannel mixing is really not that great or recommendable. Sound is quite frankly appalling - it sounds as if a mono mix was spread across all five speakers - the vocals come from out of everywhere: front and back. Nothing comes across as discrete surround sound. I know this is awful to say, but I can see why Interscope doesn't whole heartedly like this release, it's very lacklustre (from the reviews I have read Oasis the SACD 5.1 remix of "What's the Story Morning Glory" also suffers terribly from bad mixing of the stereo elements). The DVD-A has a couple of extras like a video that makes it the preferred version to buy, but on the whole a lot more time and attention should have been made to the mixing of the album.
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Old 08-04-05, 03:47 PM
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Stereophile on dualdiscs: http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/105awsi/
[M]any of the event participants [at 2004 Audio Engineering Society conference] say they will now be pushing DualDisc; as a Warner Special Products producer noted during one of the panel discussions, "DVD-Audio will disappear."

However, there may be real trouble already festering in DualDisc paradise. First, the obvious: The slightly thicker discs will get stuck in some slot-loading CD players. Any customer who has to have his car dealer extract a DualDisc from his car system is a customer lost forever.

Let's also reflect on why the playing time of a DualDisc's CD layer is limited to 60 minutes. To enable the disc to have two readable sides and still remain slim enough to play in most machines (except as noted above), the substrate layer of the CD side must be half the thickness (0.6mm) of the "Red Book" specification (1.2mm). The trouble with a thinner CD layer, though, is that it will generate a higher error rate for a significant number of players, which will not be able to precisely focus their lasers on the now closer pits. The workaround for this is to stretch out the data pits, which forces the player to spin the disc faster, hence the shorter playing time. "Red Book" CDs can cram up to 80 minutes of music onto a disc—a full 20 minutes more content than the CD side of a DualDisc. Beethoven's Ninth will now have to be sliced and diced.

Here's the interesting part: Industry insiders admit that, even with the pit fix, a DualDisc CD layer causes the error correction of your player to work overtime while deciphering the slightly fuzzy pits and lands on the disc. The CD layer of a new DualDisc is basically equivalent to an unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed regular CD that's five years old.

You read right: A new DualDisc begins life as a scuzzy pre-aged CD and goes downhill from there. Two major equipment manufacturers have already sent out service bulletins warning about their players' potential compatibility problems with the thicknesses of DualDiscs and CDs. [Since the time of this article, most of the rest of the major hardware manufacturers have followed suit.]
http://www.stereophile.com/news/013105dualdisc/
The record industry's favorite nonconformist, DualDisc, is getting a modest boost in February and March. Despite hand-wringing and compatibility warnings from scores of manufacturers, all of the major record labels say they plan to release some of the two-faced discs in coming weeks.

The most notable of the labels announcing a DualDisc release schedule is Sony BMG, whose Jordan Katz states, "We're thrilled to be coming to the marketplace with an innovative slate of DualDiscs, representing a broad range of artists and genres, including titles from Omarion, Jennifer Lopez, Velvet Revolver, Usher, AC/DC, Destiny's Child, and Avril Lavigne."

The consumer electronics arm of Sony was one of the first manufacturers to issue warnings about possible problems encountered in playing the non-standard music side of a DualDisc. Recent announcements for the new format are careful not to refer to the music side of a DualDisc as a "CD" or "compact disc," instead describing it as "a full audio album." While intended to be compatible with CD players, the music side of a DualDisc does not meet the Red Book specification for CD layer thickness. It also sports a shorter playing time.

More irony: Sony, along with Philips, brought DSD and SACD to the consumer market, neither of which are included as DualDisc formats. It should also be noted that DualDisc does not require high-resolution DVD-Audio tracks on its DVD side, and in the case of the announced Sony BMG releases, will have none.

With Sony apparently abandoning SACD while pushing DualDisc into the market, and Warners' DVD-Audio releases drying up fast, the fifth anniversaries for both SACD and DVD-Audio are looking less like birthdays and more like a DualWake (or DualDud . . . or DualDead).

However, it doesn't appear that DualDisc is intended as the next high-resolution format of choice, with most major labels emphasizing its "extraordinary" video, multimedia, and surround-sound capabilities. Most worrisome for audiophiles is that, while there will be a smattering of high-rez PCM available on some discs, the recent press announcement put together by the group of labels releasing DualDiscs this month makes no mention of high-resolution audio whatsoever.

This is all reminiscent of something one of the record label executives said to me by phone after a Dolby DVD-Audio press event a couple of years back: "We should never have marketed DVD-Audio as a better-sounding format to audiophiles. You can't please them, and nobody else cares about sound quality."
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Old 08-04-05, 09:57 PM
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I personally hope SACD, DVD-A, and DualDisc all die a quick, costly death.
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Old 08-04-05, 09:58 PM
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Old 08-04-05, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Giles
the SACD producers of Pink Floyd's "Darkside of the Moon" need to release "Wish You Were Here" in order to resurge the public and SACD fanbase
I believe I read an article/review of the CD by a student of the guy who did the original mixing on the album and who had the opportunity to listen to the original magnetic tape recordings. Anyway, it was his opinion that the SACD was a long way from the intended presentation of the material.

I only mention this because it mirrors the problems that are experienced with DVDs. The majority of the true enthusiasts will not tolerate a re-imagining of the material and studios prefer to modify material to appeal to a broader audience. Unlike DVD, SACD is a little less appealing to the masses and it's hard to sell a niche format when your target audience isn't necessarily getting what it wants.
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Old 08-05-05, 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BigPete
I believe I read an article/review of the CD by a student of the guy who did the original mixing on the album and who had the opportunity to listen to the original magnetic tape recordings. Anyway, it was his opinion that the SACD was a long way from the intended presentation of the material.
You may be refering to Alan Parsons [the engineer for "Dark Side"] who was recently interviewed about the SACD. It seems he had his feelings hurt when Capitol/Pink Floyd didn't ask him to participate in the remix.

If you haven't listened to the surround version yet, you really should.

Last edited by Gerry P.; 08-05-05 at 01:25 AM.
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Old 08-05-05, 01:49 AM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
I personally hope SACD, DVD-A, and DualDisc all die a quick, costly death.
That's an odd wish. May I ask why?

Look, many people feel that CDs sound "good enough", maybe even "great", but the reality is : they don't. They're cold and sterile, especially for traditional string and brass instruments. Usually, it's not something you notice.
Recently, I had a couple of friends over to my house. They are big rock fans, but neither had ever heard an SACD before. I sat them down and played a couple tracks from Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection. They both gasped. It sounded like there was a grand piano in the room. It's much more warm, resonant. It sounds very different than a CD version. The surround mixes are a nice novelty, no doubt, but it's the improved fidelity of the sound reproduction that makes me such an SACD fan (though I'm new to the format and only have a few). I certainly hope it doesn't die, but now at best it looks to be a niche format for Classical fans. That's a shame because it could benefit any form of music and in hybrid form, is totally backwards-compatible with any CD player.
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Old 08-05-05, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Decker
That's an odd wish. May I ask why?

Look, many people feel that CDs sound "good enough", maybe even "great", but the reality is : they don't. They're cold and sterile, especially for traditional string and brass instruments. Usually, it's not something you notice.
Recently, I had a couple of friends over to my house. They are big rock fans, but neither had ever heard an SACD before. I sat them down and played a couple tracks from Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection. They both gasped. It sounded like there was a grand piano in the room. It's much more warm, resonant. It sounds very different than a CD version. The surround mixes are a nice novelty, no doubt, but it's the improved fidelity of the sound reproduction that makes me such an SACD fan (though I'm new to the format and only have a few). I certainly hope it doesn't die, but now at best it looks to be a niche format for Classical fans. That's a shame because it could benefit any form of music and in hybrid form, is totally backwards-compatible with any CD player.
Maybe in the future companies will think it through and all decide on a standard instead of locking consumers into one type of über-CD which only plays on certain players. I'm a big fan of quality, but not a fan of limited formats which are kept close to the breast of greedy manufacturers. (Sony is a perfect example of this.)
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Old 08-05-05, 10:09 AM
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I think the Bus is a bit off-base, but I sympathize with the underlying frustration. I was an early-adopter of both SACD and DVD-A, and I find that both formats have contributed immensely to my musical enjoyment and collection*, but I'm not about to wade into the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray thing. I'll be waiting that one out. However, I certainly don't share the Bus's desire that all hi-res formats fail. Just DualDisc, as that format is hi-res in name only (with some rare exceptions that may or may not work on your equipment).

*FWIW, with over 200 SACDs on the shelf and about 50 DVD-As, I find SACD to be superior in that the mastering/quality control is typically better, playback is easier (never requires a monitor to access the track/mix you want), and the redbook layer of the hybrid discs worked in all CD players (or DVD players) without a concomitant loss of redbook quality. However, my preference for SACD is not due to some inherent technological advantage, just a superior utilization of that technology by the mastering engineers. DVD-A always had some quality discs amid the stinkers, and was improving industry-wide before essentially going on "hiatus" for the DualDisc experiment. But all is not lost. Clearly, the public wants downloadability and portability - as do I - and as portable players like the iPod continue to increase the amount of memory contained on ever smaller platforms, this will become a reality. My wife has a 30gb iPod, which she loads either in full 44.whatever PCM or Apple's non-lossy encoding, and she still has well over 50% of unused memory.
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Old 08-05-05, 09:41 PM
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I don't think either DVD-A or SACD is ever really going to take off. It's a shame too because when you have the right equipment, it's a night and day difference between the Redbook counterpart.
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Old 08-06-05, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Cardiff Giant
I don't think either DVD-A or SACD is ever really going to take off. It's a shame too because when you have the right equipment, it's a night and day difference between the Redbook counterpart.
If DVD-A encryption is cracked permanently (it is, but it currently takes a few complicated steps including WinDVD and it won't be permanent since a new DVD-A pressing can remove the WinDVD key), then I'm sure DVD-As will take off, that way they can be ripped/downloaded/whatever into your iPod/car/computer/etc and thats what people want.

SACD requires a special player to even read the disc, so the average joe isn't going to go out of his way to rip it, even if the disc was rippable.

If multi-channel song rips do take off, I wonder what format will be the next "mp3". I hope it isn't mp3pro or wma, I'm hoping it's ogg. Does aac do multi-channel?
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Old 08-07-05, 11:57 AM
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It's dying.

1. Most people are happy with CDs and they will be the dominant format for the our lifetime and maybe longer. Only MP3's will challenge them. I have no problems with this. I'm a tone, deaf audiophio so I'm fine with my cds and mp3s encoded in iTunes and 128.

2. They require a seperate player, so it was doomed fromt he start. DVD-A has some chance of sticking around since most some DVD players can play DVD-A. People are much more likely to try something out if they don't have to buy new hardware.
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Old 08-07-05, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Spooon69
If multi-channel song rips do take off, I wonder what format will be the next "mp3". I hope it isn't mp3pro or wma, I'm hoping it's ogg. Does aac do multi-channel?
The company that first developed the MP3 algorithm has already developed a multi-channel MP3 algorithm.
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Old 08-07-05, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Spooon69
SACD requires a special player to even read the disc, so the average joe isn't going to go out of his way to rip it, even if the disc was rippable.
not entirely true, on hybrid SACDs, most computer drives can read the redbook portion and rip that into MP3. If I already have an album and I'm repurchasing on SACD I don't really care if it's a hybrid, but if it's a new disc to me, I usually try and get only hybrid SACDs. DVD-A is obviously a whole other story.
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Old 08-07-05, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Hinkle
It's dying.
...2. They require a separate player, so it was doomed from the start. DVD-A has some chance of sticking around since most some DVD players can play DVD-A. People are much more likely to try something out if they don't have to buy new hardware.
Well, correct me if I'm wrong here, but it's my understanding that actually few DVD players have true DVD-A capability. They can play a DD 5.1 track, but that sound fidelity is comparable or worse than CD. I have only one DVD-A disc (Beck's new album, deluxe edition), and that all it plays on my new system (which is a Sony).

I wish there were one standard, but alas there isn't. I guess part of the problem with SACD is, as far as I understand, the format used to be SACD only, and unable to play in regular CD player. Now with hybrid, there is a much larger market, since people could buy remastered albums for their CD player and then "rediscover" the sound when they upgraded. I had thought that the hybrid reissues by The Stones and Bob Dylan would spark much interest in the format. Guess not. Oh well, I'm building my library up every month thanks to yourmusic.com

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